Mary's Journey With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Mary was previously diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). At the age of ten, when Mary was first assessed at the First Step Therapy Centre, she was found to have poor muscle tone in her upper limb and was dropping her right shoulder which was also internally rotated with the scapula (shoulder blade) laterally rotated.
Her lower-limb muscle tone was poor and the muscle power of the both upper and lower limbs was graded 4 minus on the Ashworth scale, where she could only do activities against gravity with minimal resistance and was only able to carry out low resistance exercises. She found it difficult to walk fast, jump and cycle and she was having little confidence to attempt any play activities.
She started in the Universal Exercise Unit with 6 kg of weight, using the pulley system for training with resisted exercises for both upper and lower limbs.
After several sessions, she was able to do 150 repetitions for both upper and lower limbs in a one-hour session with a five minute break for each movement such as hip flexion, extension and abduction.
Along with resisted exercises for upper limbs, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation techniques (PNF) were delivered to correct her right upper-limb problems. Her posture was corrected using exercises such as side-bending. Rotation of the trunk and strengthening of trunk muscles was done by using concentric and extrinsic exercises.
Techniques such as bridging for hip-control and a core strengthening programme were initiated by using exercise balls and an obstacle programme was used for improving co-ordination and other exercises such as rowing, jumping and squatting were also incorporated for improving the strength in lower limbs and trunk.
Despite her autism spectrum disorder, Mary showed a good response after 8 weeks into her programme, which was gradually made more intensive by introducing techniques such as Pilates exercises for the upper and lower limbs.
After 9 months of therapy, Mary could mange 8 kg of weight and able to do 200 repetitions of resisted exercises and could do 100 repetitions of skipping on her own. She could also do jumping on a trampoline, ride a bicycle and she could also do roller skating.
Overall, she is now very confident and continues to make progress in her abilities and the impact of her autism spectrum disorder has greatly diminished.
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